Over at robchipman.net, a German man who lived in Vancouver for the last year, is about to return to Berlin, but first shares his impression of our city. Thanks to Híppos Purrós for alerting us to the anecdote.
“Vancouver was a great experience but all good things come to an end I guess. I enjoyed this blog [robchipman.net] and the quality of posts here and learned a lot about the dynamics of BC and RE. As this is my last post here, I wish you all the best and thank you to all contributors.
Here are some short impressions of my stay here:
Things that I liked:
Canadians: I met a lot of wonderful people whom I hope to see again here or in Germany and hopefully remain friends for a long time.
The nature The nature The nature: I enjoyed hiking the west coast trail, meeting a wild bear, driving BC Alaska highway, seeing BC wild horses, whale watching , paddling in the Brown lakes, Kootenay Rockies and the wonderful drive from Banff to Jasper, boarding BC ferries, skiing in Whistler and lake O’Hara in Yoho park, flying kites with my kids on desert beaches, boating with friends, but most importantly I enjoyed being alone with nature and walking into the roads barely traveled. Only in BC can you do this!
Things I didn’t like:
Health care: I know that many people here are proud of Canadian health system, but our experience was not so good. After one year here, we still could not find a family doctor. One time my wife had to go to the hospital, she was turned back as there were no rooms available, despite her condition being serious and needing observation according to the doctor . Some long time readers here know my saga with my sinus problem, although not serious, I first went to a walk in clinic last November 2009 only to get an appointment with a specialist by January 28th which after 5 minutes consultation prescribed me an antibiotic Avelox (prohibited in Germany , it almost destroyed my stomach) and a CT scan for which I have appointment on Tuesday October 12th 2010!
Meanwhile I was back in Germany during spring break, saw the specialist and got the CT scan done within 2 weeks, it cost me 95euros.
Public School: We were generally disappointed with the schooling system, kids never came from school with home work nor was really any accountability asked from the teacher. From our understanding the school here seems to be a place where kids go to have fun and play rather than abide to rules, learn the culture of effort and systematic work ethic.
If it is difficult, don’t do it, seems to be the motto. Fund raising is the main preoccupation of the schools and it is rather frustrating to see the kids come home weekly with fund raising schemes for all kind of things.
Business Opportunities: I could not really find any real business opportunities here rather than some unprofitable franchises in the hospitality industry despite ample pools of capital (2 to 10M). Most small businesses I have analysed have so little profit margins that your money will get a smaller return than leaving it on a 5 year government note. I looked into farms, wineries, manufacturing, engineering, and hospitality. Business owners I talked to, have extremely exaggerated ideas of the worth of their businesses at least when you look at the cash flow they generate. There seems to be a complete disconnect between risk and reward.
The job market seems to be mainly for low paying jobs but maybe that is because of the recession. The best thing that can happen to young people finishing school here is to land a government job or work for a crown corporation or other big company close to the government in my opinion.
Real Estate: Although much has been said here regarding real estate, I only like to emphasize that the poor quality of construction and design is so obvious, you have to be blind not to notice it. I have seen brand new construction houses selling for 2+million being built “a la va vite” with poor construction materials, poor design and a mix of tasteless kitschy interior finish that leaves most real estate value on the land rather than building from my perspective.
I have no doubts that Vancouver will get a severe correction in RE prices but trying to time it is a futile exercise. When the downturn comes it will be painful, and all the myths of the rich Chinese investor and marijuana grow ops (not that they are inexistent!) shall be exposed. People will discover that this bubble is driven mainly by hard working Canadians buying 2 to 3 houses or more on cheap debt subsidised by CHMC, in a desperate rush not to be left behind the neighbour, work colleague, friend etc. as prices keep going higher and higher until they don’t.
Good luck to all. GG”